Sheriffs Say New Gun Legislation Will Put People in Danger
New gun control legislation is making its way through the State House, but sheriffs from across the state are up in arms about the bill. They say it will make it easier for criminals to get their hands on guns.
All 67 sheriffs in the state are said to be against the gun control legislation that will be debated in the Senate in the next couple weeks.
The National Rifle Association is backing the bill, but a heap of law enforcement officials oppose it.
Those in support of the legislation say it helps protects Second Amendment rights, but Montgomery County Sheriff D.T. Marshall says it will put people in danger.
"People that wrote the bill, in my opinion, they're nothing more than a hand puppet for the N.R.A. and gun lobbyists," Marshall says.
Marshall says there are many parts of the bill he is concerned about. He says it takes away a sheriff's ability to stop bad guys or the mentally unstable from getting gun permits.
"This bill will allow them to get into their car and go anywhere they want with a gun," he says.
Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin says his biggest worry is that this proposed law makes it easier for teens to carry a firearm. Right now, Franklin says you have to be 21 years old to obtain a permit, but this bill lowers the age to 18.
"Thousands of people that are in high school are going to be eligible and will want to carry a concealed weapon or open carry. That's not a healthy situation for the state," he says.
Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden says he's contacted local lawmakers to address these issues.
"Nobody knows the county better than the sheriff in that county. We know who should have a gun, and who shouldn't. We know the drug dealers, those with mental issues, and they shouldn't be allowed to carry guns," he says. "That's not what we need here."
The bill also allows people to bring guns to protests as long as they are not concealed. Marshall says people would also be able to carry them on to public places including movie theaters and schools.
"Apparently these guys, these rich white guys from North Alabama, don't know what the real world is about. This is a dangerous bill that's going to wind up getting a citizen killed before it's over with," he says. "That's why we are concerned about this bill.
Senator Bryan Taylor, R-Prattville, is a co-sponsor of this bill. He says he is listening to the sheriffs' concerns, and that some issues will be worked out before this bill hits the senate floor.
There are a number of other associations against the bill including the District Attorneys Association and the Association of Chiefs of Police.
The entire list of sponsors: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/ACTIONSponsorsResultsMac.asp?OID=80542&LABEL=SB286
To see the bill's progress: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/ACTIONHistoryResultsMac.asp?OID=80542&LABEL=SB286
To read the entire bill: http://openstates.org/al/bills/2013rs/SB286/documents/ALD00014295/